Dundrum: What a difference a decade makes for trendy suburb
Mark Keenan looks at the big changes which have taken place in the South Dublin district and increased the values of homes there
Few locations have been transformed as utterly in 10 years as Dundrum in Dublin 14 - founded in the 8th Century, fortified against country folk in the 13th and transformed into a shopping mecca in the 21st.
But the biggest change for its long-term residents has without doubt been the 2004 opening of the Luas green line.
Previously, Dundrum (which spans both the D14 and D16 postcodes) was a sprawling suburb with a reputation for having Dublin's worst traffic bottleneck. It meant those travelling the 10-mile round trip to the city centre and back could be clocking up the same time in traffic as if they were living in Dundalk.
Now, the Luas brings residents to the city in 20 minutes.
Transport: The Luas magic has also been worked on the fortunes of the area's long-standing homeowners, lifting house prices relative to other locations by around 20pc - to the degree that average semis go for between €390,000 and €500,000 today.
Meantime, Dundrum's link up to the M50 has improved access to the airport and other suburbs around the city by car.
Shopping: The Dundrum Town Centre, which opened a year after the LUAS, is one of Ireland's trendiest shopping locations and brings people in over the M50 from all parts of the county, with names like House of Fraser, TK Maxx, Harvey Nichols and Massimo Dutti.
In the meantime, the old 1971 built shopping centre has taken on a new life as the "Village Centre" with a Lidl anchor tenant and a spate of trendy delicatessens and local shops opening there.
History: Dun Droma, or the 'Fortress on the Ridge', gets its name from the 13th-century fortress and castle built by the Normans in the 13th century as a defensive outpost of The Pale against the raiding O'Toole and O'Byrne clans.
A hundred years ago, it was a country health resort based on the restorative powers of its clean hilltop air and goats' milk. The St Nahi's Church and graveyard is one of Dublin's oldest, and dates from the 8th century. These days, Dundrum is the perfect location for family living with a big selection of large and safe estates, and one of the best locations for schools.
Schools: St Benildus College, Wesley College, St Tiernans, Ballinteer Community School, St Olafs and Holy Cross are all within a mile or so of one another. Downhill, towards town, the private schools of St Alexandra College for girls and Gonzaga for boys are both within a short cycle.
UCD is within easy reach in neighbouring Clonskeagh and Trinity is accessible by Luas. Younger children love the internationally renowned Hamley's toy store as well as the cinema complex, which is one of Ireland's largest. The village has its own Carnegie Library and swimming pools are within easy reach in Stillorgan and Ballinteer.
Amenities: The area is also a thriving one for sports clubs, with Kilmacud Crokes notably providing one of the most effective cradles for Dublin GAA. Meanwhile, yummy mummies flock for their workouts to the David Lloyd Riverview centre in neighbouring Clonskeagh. Nearby Marlay Park remains one of South Dublin's most expansive and scenic Sunday destinations. The River Dodder linear park, a mile away, offers a nature walk populated by otters, kingfishers and wild brown trout, which can be flyfished by joining the local angling club.
Eating: For diners, the Town Centre has created at eaterie explosion in an area which has traditionally been starved of variety for restaurants. These range from the unusual seafood shop, Rock Lobster at Harvey Nichols, to the ever-trendy Mao, as well as Nandos and Siam Thai.
But the Celtic Tiger-era transformation has also had its downsides for the largely middle class suburb. These days, the weekday traffic snarl-ups for residents have instead become weekend jams as the multitudes swarm in to get their shopping fix at Harvey Nicks.
Variety: One of the best aspects of Dundrum for home hunters is that there's a huge variety of housing types available and the area is accessible at a wide range of prices.
Dundrum's housing staple is the semi-detached house - three and four-beds - and in estates generally dating from the 1950s to the 1980s. This was Matt Gallagher and Brennan & McGowan building territory in the 1960's.
That generation of home buyers has now hit pensionable age and are tending to trade down.
Entry-level houses start at just over €300,000 for former corpo two and three-beds in need of work in estates like Mulvey Park, St Columbanus and Millmount. Masons have a three-bed in need of work at Mulvey Park (near UCD), with room for restoration, now for sale at €325,000.
Meanwhile, at Millmount Terrace near Milltown Bridge, a three-bed is on offer through Vincent Finnegan for €325,000.For those trading down, two-bedroom apartments at Rockfield beside the centre can be picked up for less than this - Lowe is currently offering one for sale at €285,000 while the swisher two-bed apartments at Riversdale across the road sell for €320,000.
A spend of €400,000 will get you an original condition 1960s home at the Sandyford end (Balally Estate), and if you want a four-bed detached, you're looking at something like 33 Wesley Lawns for sale at €495,000 at the moment through Property Partners O'Mahony.
At the top end of the Dundrum housing ladder is the "boutique" Pirton scheme of four top-end new homes being built off Sydenham Villas.
The new properties are being developed by Jamie Moran, who has two remaining including a three-storey over lower ground floor Georgian-style new detached (3,850 sq ft) for just over €1.2m.
The development of what was the Sandyford Industrial Estate for high-tech operations like Microsoft, is fast gentrifying Dundrum. With more amenities, hotels and facilities planned, it's fortunes can only continue to rise.
Dundrum area CV
* Less than a half hour from town on Luas
* New development set for Main St
* Excellent selection of schools
* Dublin's shopping mecca with cinemas and eateries
* 1960s and 70s homes with poor BER
* Weekend traffic jams at Town Centre
* Redevelopment could ruin village character
* Recent extensions means the Luas can be full when it gets here